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Lodoicea – Wikipedia

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Taxonomy and Phylogeny:
Genus name Lodoicea given by Philibert Commerson
– Possibly derived from Lodoicus, a Latinised form of Louis
– Belongs to Coryphoideae subfamily and tribe Borasseae
– Borasseae represented by 4 genera in Madagascar and 1 in Seychelles
– Closest genus to Lodoicea is Borassus with species in Africa, India, SE Asia, Malaysia, New Guinea, and Madagascar
– Phylogenetically closer to south Asia than Africa
– Genetic sequencing shows similarity to south Asiatic palms
– Belongs to the Lataniieae subtribe of the Borrassae tribe
– Close relationship with Borassus and Borassodendron genera
– Genetic evidence supports the connection with south Asian palms

Description and Habitat:
Tree grows 25–34m tall, with record height of 56.7m
– Leaves are fan-shaped, 7–10m long, 4.5m wide, with long petioles
– Dioecious with male and female plants, male flowers in catkin-like inflorescence
Fruit 40–50cm in diameter, heaviest seed in plant kingdom
– Found in rainforests with deep, well-drained soils
– Growth reduced on eroded soils and open exposed slopes
– Prefers habitats with specific soil conditions for optimal growth

Reproduction and Dispersal:
– Staminate flowers arranged spirally with tough bracts
– Pistillate flowers solitary, partially sunken in rachis
Pollination by animals like endemic lizards and through wind and rain
Plant sex visually determined when flowers appear
– Genetic similarity raises questions about historical dispersal
– Geology of Seychelles complicates understanding of dispersal
– Evolutionary increase in seed size may have enabled oceanic dispersal
– Combination of geologic drift and oceanic dispersal hypotheses

Uses, Threats, and Conservation:
– Grown as an ornamental tree in tropical areas
– Used in Siddha, Ayurvedic, and Chinese medicine
– Highly prized seeds in royal courts
– Classified as endangered by IUCN
– Only around 8,000 wild mature trees left
– Exploitation hindering natural regeneration
– Seychelles is a World Heritage Site
– Main populations in Praslin and Curieuse National Parks
– Trade controlled by Coco-de-mer (Management) Decree

History, Mythology, and Literature:
– Formerly known as the Maldive coconut
– Discovered in 1768 by Dufresne
– Used as trade and medicinal item
– Polished shells used as collectibles by European nobles
– Literature references on the species
– Historical and mythological significance
– Various studies and research on the Lodoicea species

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